jeudi 28 août 2008

Within site of a mountaintop

Jesse L. Jackson, Jr. D-Ill.
DNC 2008, Denver, Colorado, August 27th

I'm sure that Dr. King is looking down on us here in Denver, noting that this is the first political convention in history to take place within sight of a mountain top.

On the day that President Johnson submitted the Voting Rights Act to congress, he said, "At times history and fate meet at a single place, at a single time to shape a turning point in man's unending search for freedom. So it was at Lexington and Concord. So it was [a century ago] at Appomattox, so it was [last week] in Selma, Alabama." Tonight I would add, and so it shall be in Devner, Colorado with the nomination to elect Barack Obama to be president of the United States of America. [Cheers and applause over his last words]

What a remarkable thing it is that a man who came to this convention four years ago as the keynote speaker is returning this year as our party's nominee. But for those of us who've known Barack over his decade in public office in Illinois, the yearning for change, the hunger for unity that he's tapped into across this country has a familiar ring.

I remember when Barack first decided to run for the United States senate. He had a remarkable career in the state senate, reaching across the aisle to put a tax cut into the pockets of working families, to expand health care for more children and parents, and to take on lobbyists who had so much influence in Springfield. But despite this record, most in Springfield didn't take his candidacy all that seriously.

The party establishment was skeptical of of this young leader from the south side. They didn't know what to make of a man like Barack, with a father from Kenya, a mother from Kansas, and a funny name. They didn't see how this former community organizer could possibly defeat candidates with more money, more name recognition, more backing from, quote, all the right people.

But here's the thing, that race wasn't going to be decided in the halls of power in Springfield, or [i]n the lake front high rises, it was not going to be decided by the the power brokers, or the opinion shapers, it was going to be decided by the people of Illinois. Illinois is America. America, we need you to be with Barack Obama. [applause and cheers]

It's great cities and small towns, it's old factories and new industries, it's timeless Midwestern values of faith, of family and hard work. And, its black and white, Latino and Asian all living together as one Illinois family, as one America. And, the people of Illinois were hungry for change. From the old factory towns of our industrial north to the farms of our agrarian south, families had been struggling to make ends meet in this global economy, and more often than not, they'd been harmed rather than helped by economic policies that failed to help them get ahead and reach their dreams.

But what they heard from Barack, as he traveled across the state, was a message of hope, whether he was upstate or downstate, whether he was talking with folks who'd been laid off and seen their jobs shipped overseas, or families struggling [my correction of "struggling families'] to keep up with rising costs, whether he was talking with recent immigrants who wanted to know that America had a place for them, too, whether he was talking to African-Americans who were falling further and further behind, Barack spoke of a powerful idea, the idea that's at the heart of who Barack is, the idea that the heart of who we are as Americans, and the idea that's at the heart of this campaign, that we all have a stake in each other, that the well-being of the "we" depends upon the well-being of the "he" and the "she", and that in this country we rise and fall together as one people, as one nation. [Applause and cheers over last words]

And what I saw in this campaign is what I'm seeing today, ordinary men and women of all races, all religions, all walks of life coming together to demand a government in Washington that is as honest and decent and responsible as the American people. [Cheers]

Fellow Democrats, this is a historic moment. I know. I grew up with the lessons of another generation, the Selma generation, my father's generation. I know his stories of struggle and sacrifice, of fear and division. I know America is still a place where dreams are too often deferred and opportunities too often denied, but here's what I also know.

I know that while America may not be perfect, our union can always be perfected.

I know what we can achieve when good people with strong convictions come together around a common purpose.

And, I know what a great leader can do to help us build common ground. America we need such a leader, a leader who can heal the wounds of the last eight years, a leader who knows that what unites us is greater than what divides us. America, we need Barack Obama in the White House.

So, and with that, another great voice has written in the pages of our history. We're making some these days.

As I was playing the speech bit by bit, again and again, transcribing it here, Sam walked through the living room from the petit salon to get a snack, and asked, "Who's that?"

"Jesse L. Jackson, Jr. He's a congressman from Illinois to the US congress."

"Wasn't his father a baseball player?" he asked.

"No, you're thinking of --"

"Oh, right, that's Reggie Jackson," he interrupted me, putting Nutella on something.

"Right. His father is the Reverend Jesse L. Jackson, who was part of the Civil Rights movement, who ran for president in 1988, and who supported Hillary Clinton in the primary."

President Johnson also said in his speech to the full congress for the Voting Rights Act:

There is no Negro problem. There is no Southern problem. There is no Northern problem. There is only an American problem.

And we are met here tonight as Americans--not as Democrats or Republicans; we're met here as Americans to solve that problem. This was the first nation in the history of the world to be founded with a purpose.

LBJ was a part of the great story of American struggles with itself in the 1960's that has brought us another son of that generation, Barack Obama, like Jesse Jackson, Jr., to carry on the work of our nation, begun by their fathers, with their sisters. That's my generation.

Guess what? I think I'm heading into Paris to spend the night in a bar (yeah, I know, I do it all the time, -- ha! Not.) with a bunch of other elated Democrats to watch the convention and Barack make his acceptance speech from Invesco Field.

Hey, here's your invitation to tonight's gathering (party):

Young Democrats Abroad France
invites you to come out and watch
Senator Obama's acceptance speech

32, rue Dauphine
75006 Paris
(metro: Saint-Sulpice -line 4-)

Convention begins at 1h00
(Young Dems will begin arriving around midnight!)

A little -- something to say!

This is one moment in history that I don't want to sleep through, or spend alone.

Keep hope alive.

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